Argentina in hot waters with China over illegal fishing boat

While it seems like the United States and the rest of the world are impressed by Argentina’s willingness to become part of the nation’s leading powers again, China may end up thinking differently.

The Daily Mail in the United Kingdom reported earlier this week that the Argentine coast guard announced that it sank an illegal fishing boat that was displaying China’s flag.

The coast was ordered to sink the boat after detecting it fishing illegally. The Argentine coast guard, in an effort to protect the resources, went out on the waters to confront the ship.

The coast guard said in a statement they fired warning shots after the vessel denied requests from them in both English and Spanish.

The Chinese vessel refused these orders by turning off its lights and tried to crash into a coast guard boat on purpose.

Following the attempted crash, the coast guard decided to open fire on the illegal fishing boat, sinking it.

According to CNN, the coast guard managed to rescue four members that were on board–one captain and three mates–but the 28 other people who were on the ship were rescued by other Chinese vessels nearby.

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs is demanding an official investigation be held, claiming Argentina’s coast guard chased the boat for hours before firing at it.

Though this may not seem like a big issue on the surface to those unfamiliar with Argentina, I believe this incident may be costly in their slightly stable relationship with the country.

A lot of Argentina’s relationships with other countries suffered under the ruling of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and her late husband and predecessor, Néstor, but their relationship with China did not.

They established diplomatic ties in 1972 and have embassies for each other in their respective nations. Argentina is also China’s third largest trading partner and has the third largest economy in Latin America.

In 2014, former president Kirchner and Chinese president Xi Jinping signed more than 20 trade deals, including deals on raw materials, something China desires greatly and something Argentina and easily give to them.

Given the countries signed more than 20 trade deals two years ago, I find it hard to think or believe there isn’t anything Argentina is keeping from China they don’t already have themselves.

I also find it upsetting the Chinese vessels were in exclusive Argentine waters to start, unless they were unaware of the zones at the time of they either entered the water or were approached by the coast guard.

The investigation should be conducted in collaboration by both countries, that way there is no grounds for one country to say that the other held an unfair investigation.

China and Argentina do not have the same or similar tensions in their relationship the way same way the US does with China. Argentina’s eagerness to work with the U.S. also reflects their willingness to (to say in unprofessionally) “be friends with everyone” regardless of governmental and political structures.

It will interesting to see how this plays out in the upcoming weeks, especially since Obama is still set to visit Argentina next week.